Thursday, October 28, 2010

Digitizing Film: The beginning

Before we made the switch to a digital camera, our household was an avid film user. And not the point and shoot variety, but we had a decent Canon Rebel 35mm and took a lot of pictures. We were very well known at our local development places after a while. I recall that we were very excited when the local Sam's Club began offering photo CDs of our memories. As I look back on them now, though, those digital versions of our film shots are woefully inadequate compared to what we would generate when we upgraded to the Canon Digital Rebel XT or even our now, newly purchased Rebel XTi. The digital versions were small and grainy, nothing like what I remember the prints looking like. On top of this, I had recently began thinking that it would be nice to have great digital copies of our wedding photos which are spectacular in our album. We were lucky enough to get the film negatives from our photographer and this seemed a great way to "back up" and preserve our photos. It didn't take long to put those two together and wonder, "How do photo development places handle digital copies of film now?"

Film is going bye-bye quickly and it didn't take long to realize that, even now, your one hour photo place still does not provide high resolution scans of film developing. Some online searching revealed a number of sites that provide this service with formats ranging from 7 megapixels and higher for a relatively reasonable price. In this series of posts, I will give a running commentary on my experiences in scanning our film negatives into digital prints.

To start, I chose as the first test for scanning. They are US based (some sites are overseas), had pricing comparable to other competitors, and were fairly well reviewed online. I went through all my film negatives, divided them up into groups including our wedding photos, important events (graduation, births, etc), and the rest. From the important events, I picked one set of 24 photos that included a few of our kids but mostly some shots of the opening of my gradeschool time capsule to use as an initial run. I wanted to see what kind of quality I would get from the service before sending them the really important pictures.

The online ordering process was straightforward as was arranging for my negatives to be send. I put them in a standard mailing envelope with some padding and some cardboard to prevent folding during transit. I mailed these on Monday. As today, Thursday, I have received the initial email that they have received my negatives and I will be monitoring the scanning process and posting updates as the pictures are made available

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